Cancer Doesn’t Come to the Party Alone (by Judy)

A Facebook friend of mine who has lupus once told me

Lupus doesn’t come to the party alone

and went on to list other ailments she has had since she was diagnosed with lupus. I feel very much the same way about my cancer.

As most readers of my blog know, I was first diagnosed with Stage 4 Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) in January 2008 after a month of tests. IBC is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. One explanation of IBC can be found at the Mayo Clinic website.

Anyways, my cancer certainly hasn’t come to the party alone. Throughout my treatment, I’ve been diagnosed with ailments that I either wouldn’t have without the cancer (or treatment) or that would have taken longer for me to get. Since I was diagnosed with IBC, I’ve also been diagnosed with arthritis, diabetes, and a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in my lungs). It’s possible that I would have eventually had arthritis and diabetes because they run in my family. However, I suspect they would have come later in life without my cancer and the grueling treatment regimens I’ve endured. The pulmonary embolism is a direct result of having cancer, as my oncologist told me. I take medication for each of these conditions.

In addition, my teeth and eyesight have worsened because of the cancer and treatment for it. Currently, I also have dermatitis (a rash on my face and other places on my body that looks like pimples) and hand-foot syndrome.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to complain; I’m simply stating facts. Is this cancer different than cancer(s) that other people have? Well, yes. Each cancer patient, even each metastatic IBC patient, responds differently to cancer treatments. My treatment is individualized to me and my cancer and other conditions. I meet with my oncologist once every four to six weeks to see how things are going — what side effects am I having, how does my bloodwork look, etc. She is wonderful at asking questions specific to me, and I feel comfortable asking her about anything.

One place you can go to find out information about cancer treatment is a website called Is My Cancer Different? Is My Cancer Different includes sections on Individualized Cancer Treatment, Frequently Asked Questions, and Expert Insights. Each section includes subsections full of information from patients, medical professionals, and scientists that can help someone who is starting out on their cancer journey. It can even answer questions — or provide reassurance — to those of us who are (or feel like) old-timers in the cancer community.

I am so glad that my oncologist subscribes to the notion that cancer affects everyone differently. As regular readers know, I’m currently on a chemo regimen that works well for me. However, as my oncologist told me, some women can’t tolerate it. She also told me that some women have been on this combination of drugs for three years or more. That would be a good thing, of course, because I’ll be on this regimen until it stops working for me. At that time, she’ll find another chemo regimen for me. She’s told me that a number of women can live for “many years” with my condition. I haven’t yet – nor may I ever – ask for her definition of “many years.” You know, I have that nine (almost ten) year old son I’d like to raise to adulthood, and of course, I’d love to be here on this earth beyond that time. I just don’t know what the future holds.

No, my cancer – unfortunately – didn’t come to the party alone . . .

even though there was no invite.
Cross-posted to Just Enjoy Him.

5 Responses to Cancer Doesn’t Come to the Party Alone (by Judy)

  1. Judy, that post really hit home. Since my diagnosis in Aug 2007, I have some arthritis (or it could just be SEs of the Arimidex) and now thyroid problems. The weight gain has been horrible (again, is it the Arimidex or my thyroid?). My eyesight is worse (is it the diabetes or my treatments?). So many questions, but certainly something to think about.

  2. What a great way to explain what we go through. We are not complaining, just stating the facts. I have hand- foot rash and soreness. Vision changes with dry and tender eye lids. I have lymphadema and nerve damage from my armpit/ axillary node removal. I have a tender scalp from the scar from my brain surgery. I have half my hair growing out for the second time. I have weak fingernails and hands. And I could go on more. This makes me sound sad but I’m not. I have a lovely 2.5 year old daughter that I have tried years to conceive. I better be here for her. I was told twice today at doctors appointments that I don’t look like I have been sick a day in my life. Ha ha if they only new. I keep as much hidden as I can. We are all in this together. We are teaching the doctors how to help us live longer and better lives.

  3. Wham, baby! What a great way of explaining the complications that come with cancer, and how we (and our treatments) are not “one size fits all.”

    Really well done, and I wish you many more years on this Chemo regimen and others to come.

    ❤ Susan

  4. thyroid symptoms, thyroid disease symptoms…

    […]Cancer Doesn’t Come to the Party Alone (by Judy) « Mothers With Cancer[…]…

  5. dry itchy scalp…

    […]Cancer Doesn’t Come to the Party Alone (by Judy) « Mothers With Cancer[…]…

%d bloggers like this: